Neuroscience researchers from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, are presenting a wide range of research topics at the Society for Neuroscience’s 39th annual meeting in Chicago, Oct. 17-21, 2009. The information below is a representation of the neuroscience research Yerkes scientists will be discussing. To learn more about ongoing research and scientific resources available at the Yerkes Research Center and the other seven national primate research centers, please visit exhibit booth 2153.
Stuart Zola, PhD, Director, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and one of the nation’s leading neuroscientists, moderated the Dialogues between Neuroscience and Society series Saturday, Oct. 17, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. This series offers thought-provoking perspective on issues of interest and/or concern to neuroscientists by engaging with leaders from other fields of study.
Todd Preuss, PhD, researches the evolutionary specializations of the human brain by comparing humans to chimpanzees and to other nonhuman primates. The goal is to understand the extent to which evolutionary expansion of the human brain was accompanied by the addition of new areas or by the enlargement and internal reorganization of existing areas. Preuss participated in a news conference entitled “Evolution of Brain and Behavior” Sunday, Oct. 18 at 12:30 p.m. Preuss will also present a poster presentation Tuesday, Oct. 20, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.
The Yerkes Research Center is sponsoring the Meet the Expert session on imaging that will feature John Gabrielli of MIT, one of Yerkes’ Scientific Advisory Board members. This session was Saturday, October 17, 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Diseases
Lary Walker, PhD, studies Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and trauma, the aging process and prion diseases. Walker’s current research focuses on the protein structure and chemistry of Alzheimer’s disease as well as the disease pathogenesis. He is also studying amyloid deposits in Alzheimer’s affected brains and evaluating the efficacy and side effects of therapeutic immunizations. Walker lab poster presentation: Rebecca Rosen, PhD, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Stella Papa, PhD, researches the areas of pathophysiology and therapeutics of neurodegenerative disorders focusing on Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. Papa lab poster presentation: S. Uthayathas, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Yoland Smith, PhD, researches the neurochemical changes that mediate cell death and abnormal motor behaviors in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s chorea. Smith will present a poster Tuesday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m. – noon.
Thomas Wichmann, MD, who collaborates with Smith, researches the pathophysiology of movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. His research focuses on evaluating the role of abnormal nerve cell activity in the basal ganglia in the development of Parkinsonian motor signs. The goal of his work is to gain a better understanding of the chemical and electrophysiologic changes that cause Parkinson’s that can then be translated into new and more effective therapies. Smith and Wichmann lab poster presentations are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21: J.G. Masilamoni, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.; Abraham Mathai, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.; Jean-Francois Pare, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.; Kalynda Gonzales, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.; and Rosa Villalba PhD, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Yerkes Director Dr. Zola researches the brain structures important for memory and seeks to determine how these structures separately and in combination contribute to memory function. His lab also studies emotional behavior and its link to memory function in humans and animals. Zola will present a poster Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Jocelyne Bachevalier, PhD, studies infantile amnesia, the inability to remember virtually anything from infancy. The primary goal of her research program is to determine the structural or functional immaturity responsible for infantile amnesia. Her lab also studies the nature of the memory decline in monkeys, which accompanies normal aging, to help explain aging-related memory disorders. Bachevalier lab poster presentations: Jessica Raper, Saturday, Oct. 17, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.; Alyson Zeamer, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.; Shala Blue, Saturday, Oct. 17, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.; and Laetitia Cirilli, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m. – noon.
Elizabeth A. Buffalo, PhD, researches the neuronal mechanisms involved in the establishment and maintenance of memory. Through her research, she records neural activity in monkeys that have been trained to perform various types of memory tasks and investigates how changes in neuronal activity correlate with each monkey’s ability to learn and remember in order to better understand how medial temporal lobe circuits support memory formation. Such understanding has the potential to make way for new therapies aimed at reducing or preventing memory loss that results from medial temporal lobe disease. Buffalo lab poster presentation: Megan Tompkins, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Michael J. Kuhar, PhD, chair of Yerkes’ Division of Neuroscience, studies drug addiction and the role of CART peptides in the abuse of cocaine and other psycho-stimulate drugs. Kuhar’s ongoing research includes examining the biochemical and physiological mechanisms involved in drug abuse in order to develop potential medications and treatments for drug abusers. Kuhar lab poster presentations: G. Desbordes, Saturday, Oct. 17, 3 p.m. – 4pm.; George Rogge, Sunday, Oct. 18, 3 p.m. – 4pm.; Doug Jones, PhD, Sunday, Oct. 18, 4 p.m. – 5pm.; Yiming Lin, PhD, Monday, Oct. 19, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.; and George Hubert, PhD, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.
Fear, Anxiety and Stress
Michael Davis, PhD, researches the physiological bases of learning and memory and brain areas involved in fear, anxiety and stress. Davis lab poster presentations are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21: Leigh Miles, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.; Ryan Parsons, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.; D.L. Walker, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.; and Kelly Sink, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
E. Christopher Muly, MD, PhD, researches how various forms of experience alter the structural organization of nerve cell communication to understand how experience and drugs mediate alterations in brain functioning relevant to a wide variety of neuropsychiatric disorders, including post traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia. Muly lab poster presentation: S.V. Kusnoor, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 11 a.m. – noon.
Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD, studies the biological mechanisms that cause fear. Ressler focuses on post traumatic stress disorder, a condition that causes chronic anxiety and traumatic flashbacks, and the genetic and neurobiological keys to preventing and treating the disease. Ressler lab poster presentations were scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 18: Aaron Jasnow, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.; Georgette Gafford, 11 a.m. – noon; Kimberly Maguschak, 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.; and Scott Heldt, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Mar Sanchez, PhD, studies neurobiological systems that control stress physiology and emotion regulation in nonhuman primates, particularly the developmental effects of early adverse experiences on stress neuroendocrine systems, emotion regulation and related neurobiological substrates of primates. Sanchez will present a poster Monday, Oct. 19, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Sanchez lab poster presentation: Brittany Powell, Sunday, Oct. 18, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Sex and the Brain
Larry Young, PhD, researches the molecular-, cellular- and systems-level mechanisms underlying social behaviors, specifically monogamy and partner bonding. Young’s research focuses on the roles of oxytocin and vasopressin in a variety of social behaviors in order to better understand the relationship between genes, the brain and behavior. Young lab poster presentations: Sara Freeman, Monday, Oct. 19, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.; and Todd Ahern, Monday, Oct. 19, 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Graduate student Eric Hecht presented a poster on imaging Sunday, Oct. 18, 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Hecht works in the labs of Dr. Preuss and Jim Rilling, PhD.